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Little Beehive, Big Beehive and Lake Agnes Teahouse Hike

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“As I gazed down at the world famous lake, I was lost in it’s blues. I couldn’t believe how much more vibrant the turquoise colour was from above and how there were thousands of tourist down there missing out on seeing it from this unique perspective…”

The Little Beehive hike and the Big Beehive Hike via Lake Agnes Teahouse at Lake Louise are some of the best Lake Louise hikes! This trio of trails gives you incredible views of Lake Louise from above!

girl sitting on rock at the Little Beehive lookout in Fall

One of the great things about this hike is that you can do 3 different hikes in one or you can choose to shorten it and choose to do only 1 or 2 sections of the hike.

The Beehive Hike consists of the Little Beehive, Big Beehive and Lake Agnes Teahouse Hike. Dave and I did all 3 in one day and are going to spill all the “tea” on whether or not it is worth it to do all 3!

This guide will tell you everything you need to know about each of these hikes, including:

  • The hike stats
  • How difficult each of the Beehive hike’s sections are
  • How to combine all three to do one big epic hike
  • Details of the trails
  • Are passes or permits required
  • Which part of the hike was our favourite!
  • Pros and Cons of the Little Beehive vs the Big Beehive
  • Where to stay nearby
Photo of Lake Louise at sunrise

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Would you prefer to hike in a group with a guide? I recommend this Beehive Hike Tour which starts at the Fairmont at Lake Louise.

Everything you need to know about the Beehive Hike via Lake Agnes at Lake Louise

📃 Hike Stats

Distance: 12.1km / 7.5miles
Time: 5-7hours
Elevation: 880m / 2,887ft
Dog Friendly: Yes
Toilets: Yes, at the Fairmont Hotel at Lake Louise and at the Lake Agnes Teahouse

📍 Where is the Lake Louise Beehive Hike Located?

Just like the name says, the Little Beehive / Big Beehive Trail is located at Lake Louise in Banff National Park.

If you are driving, you will need to park in the Lake Louise parking lot which is paid parking during the months May – October and usually fills up by 7am.

📌TIP: The Lake Louise Parking Lot does get super busy during Summer in the peak times such as weekends and mid-morning / lunch. I recommend getting there nice and early in the morning or alternatively later in the afternoon once the day morning hikers leave for the day.

How to get to Lake Louise by Public Transport

If you choose not to drive, you can arrange the shuttle service to Lake Louise through Parks Canada or Road Transit. This will need to be booked in advance.

Click here to open the map in Google Maps!

couple at the Little Beehive viewpoint in Lake Louise at sunset

🚗 How to Get to the Beehive Hike Trailhead

The Lake Agnes Teahouse, Little Beehive and Big Beehive hikes all start from the same trailhead. Once you reach Lake Louise from the carpark, walk around the right-hand-side of the lake, past the Fairmont Hotel.

To reach the trailhead, keep walking alongside the lake (which will be on your left), and soon on your right-hand-side, you will see the Lake Agnes Trail sign with a trail that takes you up into the forest. This is where you will want to go.

There are actually 2 different options for the trail so you can take one up and the other one back. We recommend taking the trail to Lake Agnes and Mirror Lake as this trail is more of a gradual incline.

🚗 Looking for more things to do in Banff National Park? Check out these must see spots in this Icefields Parkway guide!

ℹ Things to Know Before Hiking the Beehive Trail

  • You are in bear and cougar country. There are black bears, grizzly bears and cougars in the Lake Louise area. Bring bear spray with you on all hikes and ensure you are up to date with wildlife safety.
  • The bugs are insane during Summer! Bring along some good bug spray.
  • Wear sunscreen and a hat as there are parts of the hike that are quite exposed.
  • If you do all 3 trails in one day, it is quite a long hike. Make sure you are well prepared with enough food and water for the day. If you do run out, there is Agnes Teahouse as a back up. We saw plenty of people with no backpacks or water which is just shocking!
Couple standing at Mirror Lake, Lake Louise

🎫 Do I need a Hiking Pass or Permit?

You do not need a pass to do the hike, however if you park in the parking lot, you will need a national parks pass as well as a parking ticket.

🚻 Facilities

There are bathrooms in the Lake Louise parking lot. At the Lake Agnes Teahouse, you will find some pit toilets and of course the teahouse where you can purchase hot drinks and food.

🐶 Are Dogs Allowed on the Beehive Trail

Dogs are allowed on the Beehive Trail, however must be kept on a leash at all times. There are horses that use parts of the same trails to do trail rides so that’s something to be aware of if you have a dog.

photo of the mountains along the little beehive trail in lake louise

📆 When is the Best Time of the Year to do the Hike

Summer is a great time to do the Beehive hike, however, we have also done it in the Fall which is now my favourite time to do this hike. The weather is much more unpredictable, which made it a little tricky to plan, but there are golden larch trees speckled along the trail and you can also see them from the viewpoints.

🚶‍♀️ Overview: The 3 Sections of the Hike

There are 3 different sections (or 3 different hikes), that you can choose to split up or do all at once! The first and easiest hike is The Little Beehive Hike.

The second is The Lake Agnes Teahouse Hike and the third is The Big Beehive Hike which also includes Lake Agnes Teahouse along the way.

Little Beehive Hike

Distance: 8.6km
Elevation Gain: 535m
Time:
3-4 hours
Difficulty: Moderate

The Little Beehive is the shortest section of the hike and if you were to do it by itself it would be 9km return.

couple at the Little Beehive viewpoint in Lake Louise at sunset

We found that the Little Beehive wasn’t quite as popular as the Big Beehive viewpoint even though the views are just as awesome!

Lake Agnes Teahouse Hike

Distance: 7.6km
Elevation Gain: 435m
Time:
2.5 – 3.5 hours
Difficulty: Moderate

Man standing at Lake Agnes

Lake Agnes Teahouse is on the same trail as the Little Beehive Hike for the majority of the hike, however you take a little detour to get to the Little Beehive viewpoint.

If your goal is to reach the Big Beehive though, you might choose to gun it straight to Lake Agnes Teahouse, stop for a rest and some photos and then continue on to the Big Beehive viewpoint. You could always make a detour to the Little Beehive on the way back if you still have time.

The Teahouse itself is pretty small and in Summer the queues become absolutely insane! It was much quieter near the end of the day in September.

Lake Agnes in the Fall

Not really worth the hype if you ask us, but then again we didn’t try the food so maybe it is incredible. As you can imagine, the food there was also kind of pricey due to the location and there wasn’t a huge amount of choice.

We preferred to bring our own snacks and lunch with us on this hike and then stop somewhere without any queues for a treat back in Lake Louise once we were done.

Lake Agnes is gorgeous and is framed by a big snowy mountain which shows its reflection in the lake on a calm day.

Big Beehive Hike

Distance: 10.8km
Elevation Gain: 778m
Time:
4-6 hours
Difficulty: Hard

couple standing at the Big Beehive Viewpoint overlooking Lake Louise

The Big Beehive is the hardest of the 3 hikes and also the longest. We did this hike at the beginning of July and there were still a few sections with snow on the trail from Lake Agnes Teahouse to the Big Beehive.

This made the trail quite scary as it is also a steep drop off on one side for quite some time as you hike up a few winding switchbacks from the Teahouse.

🥾 Trail Description

The Beginning

The trail begins at Lake Louise and immediately takes you up into the forest. You will climb steadily until you reach the first point of interest, Mirror Lake. Mirror Lake is a lake with the Big Beehive sitting above / behind it.

You will immediately realise how both of these got their names! Mirror Lake, because the reflections in the lake are so good that it could easily be a mirror and Big Beehive resembles a beehive!

Mirror Lake

From Mirror Lake, there are two different trails that you can take, but you will want to follow the trail to the right, following the signs to Little Beehive, Big Beehive and the Lake Agnes Hike. A little way further into the trail, you will come to an intersection where you can choose to head straight up to Lake Agnes to go to the Little Beehive first.

The Little Beehive Viewpoint

Couple sitting at the Little Beehive viewpoint overlooking Lake Louise

When we did this hike, we went to the Little Beehive first and from there continued onto Lake Agnes and the Big Beehive. The Little Beehive is only about 1km from Mirror Lake and once you reach the viewpoint, there are lots of different spots to take in the view of Lake Louise and the Fairmont Hotel.

One thing I do remember not liking about this viewpoint in the Summer was the amount of mosquitoes! They weren’t as bad up at the Big Beehive.

Lake Agnes Teahouse

photo of Lake Agnes with Reflections of mountain in water

From the Little Beehive viewpoint, you will only have to backtrack a little before continuing onto Lake Agnes. You will see a sign for the teahouse. This was the most crowded area of the hike but a good places for a rest.

Couple standing at Agnes Lake

There are a couple of seats but they will most likely be taken. If they are, you can always find a good comfy rock. There are also toilets located at the Agnes Teahouse. When we were there there was a line for the toilets and a line for the teahouse. It was incredible but I guess that’s Lake Louise in the Summer for you!

The Big Beehive Viewpoint

Couple holding hands and standing above Lake Louise at the Big Beehive viewpoint

Lake Agnes Teahouse is the point where a lot of people turn around but if you are wanting to hike up to the Big Beehive, you will need to continue walking around the right-hand-side of Lake Agnes.

As you walk, the trail on the other side of the lake will come into view and you will see people hiking higher up switchbacks away from the lake. This is where you are going.

As you walk around Lake Agnes, listen out for Pikas. You might hear them squeaking as you are in their favourite kind of environment. Pikas absolutely love being in the mountains in a big boulder field which is what you will be hiking through. The trail is well maintained so luckily, you won’t have to navigate the boulders.

The switchbacks and the part of the lake furthest away from the teahouse were the sections that we encountered snow in July when we did this trail. I actually ended up putting on micro spikes just to make myself feel more confident but the snow wasn’t too bad.

Once you have completed the switchbacks, you will feel like you should be there and this is where the hike felt like it was never ending. To get to the viewpoint, you have to continue walking all the way until you reach a viewing platform.

This is it! Oh also watch out for chipmunks up here. They seemed to really enjoy the view.

👀 Which is better – The Little Beehive or Big Beehive Hike in Lake Louise?

The answer to this is totally subjective but I can give you my opinion and the reason behind it and then I will outline the pros and cons for each for you to make your own decision.

My favourite section of the hike was the Little Beehive because I actually preferred the view, being that much closer to the lake and it wasn’t as crowded as the Big Beehive the day we were there.

Little Beehive vs Big Beehive Pros and Cons

Little Beehive HikeBig Beehive Hike
– Shorter Hike (approx. 2-4 hours)– Longer Hike (approx. 4-5 hours)
– More mosquitoes– You may have to hike through some snowy sections
– Less crowded and more space at the viewpoint– Less obstructed views overlooking Lake Louise / you can see more of Lake Louise
– You can still see Lake Agnes after– You can see Lake Agnes along the way

🛌 Where to Stay Nearby

There are lots of great accommodation options in Lake Louise but our favourites are:

Deer Lodge – We stayed here on our most recent trip to Lake Louise and absolutely loved it! We could walk to the lake in about 5 minutes!

HI Lake Louise Alpine CentreWe have also stayed here! It is located further away from the lake in the town and is a great option if you are on a budget.

Fairmont Chateau Lake LouiseWe would love to stay at the Fairmont one day. It is located right on Lake Louise and has lots of different dining options with views of the lake from the hotel!

🎒 Packing List

🥾 Other Great Hikes to do in Lake Louise

As you can imagine, there are loads of awesome hikes to do in Lake Louise all varying in levels of difficulty.

Fairview Lookout

Distance: 2.3km / 1.4 miles | Elevation: 161 metres / 528 ft | Time: 1-1.5 hrs |  Level: Moderate

View from the Fairview Lookout at LAke Louise

This is another popular hike in Lake Louise because you get a really great view of the Fairmont with the mountains in the background. It is much shorter and easier than the Beehive hike.

It is also a popular snowshoeing route. The trail takes you up the left-hand-side of Lake Louise.

Mt. Saint Piran

Distance: 13km / 8 miles | Elevation: 940 metres / 3,083 ft | Time: 5-6 hrs |  Level: Challenging

The views from Mt. Saint Piran are similar to the Beehives but even more epic and unobstructed! The trail is also much less popular due to the difficult terrain higher up which is a mixture of a scramble and a hike. It starts off on the same trail as the Little Beehive until you are almost at the viewpoint and then you need to turn off to continue to Mt Saint Piran.

We haven’t done this one yet but it’s definitely on our list for the next time we are in Lake Louise!

💭 Our Thoughts

We love love loved this trio of trails and we don’t regret doing all 3 at once! Our personal favourite viewpoint was the Little Beehive so the next time we visited in the Fall, we went back and just did the Little Beehive for sunset.

Views along the Little Beehive Trail

You might only get to see Lake Louise once in your life so you may as well see as much as you can while you have the chance so we recommend doing all 3 if you feel up to it.

If you don’t feel comfortable hiking by yourself, I highly recommend joining this hiking tour so that you don’t miss out on seeing this incredible once in a lifetime views for yourself!

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